Canadian Armoured Vehicles Reportedly Used by Saudi in Deadly Siege on its Own Shia Population

Published July 30th, 2017 - 07:35 GMT
Saudi's Shia population have had their protests met with a violent and deadly crackdown. (AFP/File)
Saudi's Shia population have had their protests met with a violent and deadly crackdown. (AFP/File)

Canada says it will look into reports that Saudi Arabia is using Canadian armoured vehicles in a brutal crackdown in the country's Shia-majority eastern province.

It follows reports from the Globe and Mail newspapers that Canadian-made armoured vehicles were being used against Shia civilians in Saudi military operation in the town of Awamiya.

At least five people were killed in operations this week in the town, which lies in the oil-rich region. Saudi Arabia is demolishing a number of historic homes in the Shia-majority neighbourhood.

Saudi Arabia has also ordered the execution of a number of alleged Shia militants caught raids. There have also been militant attacks on Saudi security forces in the region.

Canada says it is treating the claims by the newspaper "very seriously".

"We are looking at these claims very seriously... and have immediately launched a review," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in French, said in during a visit in central Canada.

Gurkha RPVs, produced by Terradyne Armored Vehicles near Toronto, appear to have been used in some Saudi security operations in the troubled east of the country, experts said after reviewing footage.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was said to be "deeply concerned about this situation and has asked officials to review it immediately" according to a spokesperson.

"If it is found that Canadian exports have been used to commit serious violations of human rights, the minister will take action," added spokesman John Babcock.

"The government is actively seeking more information about Saudi Arabia's current efforts to deal with its security challenges, the reports of civilian casualties, and the reports that Canadian-made vehicles have been used by Saudi Arabia in its current security operations.

"Canada will review all available information as it determines an appropriate course of action."

Canada had demanded "its internal security operations be conducted in a manner consistent with international human rights law".

The controversial $13 billion US contract to supply Riyadh with light armored vehicles was struck by the previous Conservative government.

Trudeau's Liberal government has had to defend this contract against criticism that it may have violated Canada's export control rules that bar arms exports to countries with a poor human rights record and the prohibit using these weapons against civilians.

Freeland's predecessor, Stephane Dion said last year the government would halt or revoke the export license for the military equipment if credible information showed it was being used inappropriately.

"We have contracts in which people commit to respect Canadian laws, the terms of the contract and Canadian values, and we expect these contracts to be respected," Trudeau said.

Canada had already said it was concerned with violence in Saudi Arabia, and urged Riyadh to "defuse tensions." 

"All such challenges must be addressed in a manner that abides by international human rights law," the statement added.

Copyright @ 2022 The New Arab.

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